Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony Opus 9 is no joke. 22 minutes of complex, unrelenting, rapturous expressivity - a genius composer searching, through the voices of “15 solo instruments”, for nothing less than the future of music. The piece is damned difficult. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Orpheus’ jaw-dropping 1990 Deutsche Grammophon recording - assured from the first note, melodies erupting and flowing above, below and around each other, quicksilver changes in character, a persistent, unified clarity of intention; the performance, from beginning to end, is audacious. Apparently Schoenberg himself conducted the 1907 premiere of the work in Vienna - I can’t help but think that, had he encountered Orpheus’ extraordinary rendition for 15 chamber musicians, he might have been inclined to leave the baton at home.
— James Austin Smith, Orpheus oboist